Sunderland v Newcastle Utd 27th October
Gus Poyet will take charge of his first home game as Sunderland boss in the Wear-Tyne derby against Newcastle.
Sunderland and Newcastle locks horns for the 151st time with the Black Cats still searching for their first win in the Premier League this season. Sunderland remain rooted to the bottom of the table and are desperate to kick-start their season.
Poyet replaced Paolo Di Canio at the Stadium of Light earlier this month and endured a baptism of fire in his first game in charge after seeing his troops go down to a 4-0 defeat at Swansea.
Sunderland won the last meeting between the two fierce rivals with a memorable 3-0 win at St James’ Park and Newcastle will be out for revenge for that defeat.
Newcastle will be aiming to pile the misery on their rivals and secure bragging rights as they look to build on their win against Cardiff and draw against Liverpool in their last two games.
Maybe it’s is stupid to think no other game matters because, even if you won both derby matches in a season, you might go on to lose a cup final or be relegated.
However, try telling that to the supporters of Newcastle and Sunderland this weekend. The intensity, significance and propensity for crowd trouble in this battle for North East pride have risen in recent years as both clubs have stagnated.
It is a wonderful occasion with an ugly side and it is one Gus Poyet and Sunderland desperately need to take something positive from. Neither manager, though, dare lose it.
Sunderland defender Wes Brown has recovered from a calf problem sustained in pre-season and could play his first competitive game since January 2012. Loanee Ki Sung-Yeung returns after being ineligible to face his parent club Swansea last weekend.
Newcastle will assess Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini, with the latter having made a quicker than expected recovery from a groin problem. However, the Magpies are without Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, who serves a one-game ban.
You can tell Gus Poyet is new following his headline on the Sunderland Echo’s website: “Poyet urges fans to make Stadium of Light a hostile cauldron for Newcastle”. Well, he needn’t worry on that score at least.
Sunderland boss Poyet should know knows first hand what he is up against. He will have looked at his players before, during and after their defeat at Swansea and you always see more of what your players are made of when your team is struggling.
His real concerns were evident after just one match as Sunderland boss, with the Uruguayan discovering straight away what a tough job it will be to keep the team in the Premier League – and that’s with 30 games to go!
After the sad capitulation at Swansea, Poyet spoke of a Sunday “he wouldn’t wish on any manager”. Lose the derby and he won’t like Mondays either – and won’t need telling why.
Poyet’s a passionate character, and I think he ‘gets’ what this game is about already – even if he isn’t lapsing into Paolo Di Canio-style excess about the clash counting for “2,000 matches”!
Like his immediate predecessor, he’s being thrown into local passions just two games into his tenure. He becomes the fourth Sunderland boss Alan Pardew will have faced in six derbies in charge of Newcastle.
April’s 3-0 defeat at home to Di Canio’s Black Cats hurt Pardew badly. He promised to “make sure it hurts our players until the end of the season and even into next year, trust me”.
This first chance of revenge extends further too. Pardew’s Newcastle lost FA Cup ties at Poyet’s Brighton in each of the last two seasons, with touchline tensions between combustible coaches John Carver and Charlie Oatway set to be renewed again.
With Fabricio Coloccini possibly still sidelined and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa suspended, Newcastle may have a defensive problem to solve. Either Steven Taylor if fit or last Saturday’s surprise scorer Paul Dummett will start, and that will mean that at least one local supporter of their team plays in the derby.
The 22 Premier League matches between these sides have produced nine Newcastle wins, nine draws and four Sunderland victories.
The last time the Black Cats won successive league matches against the Magpies was during the 1966-67 season, when they recorded 3-0 victories in both meetings.
Sunderland have won only one of their 11 Premier League home matches against Newcastle (D5, L5), failing to keep a single clean sheet.
Sunderland are the fourth team to claim only one point from their opening eight Premier League games. Two of the previous three went down (Manchester City in 1995-96 and Sheffield Wednesday in 1999-2000), while Southampton survived in 1998-99.
The Black Cats have lost 15 of their last 22 top-flight matches (W2, D5).
Sunderland will hope to avoid a seventh successive league defeat on Sunday. If they lose it will be their worst run in the top flight since a sequence of nine consecutive defeats between October and December 2005.
Victory would see Newcastle win back-to-back away league games for the first time since March/April 2012, when they won at West Brom and then Swansea.
The Magpies have scored two goals in each of their last five league games.
Against Liverpool, Paul Dummett became the first non-Frenchman to score a league goal for Newcastle since April.
Stat of the game:
There have been five red cards given in the last six Premier League derbies between these two sides!!!
The big Mackem v Tackem derby today